Settler Invaders and the Industrious Expectations of CivilisationI wore my new brown velveteen, my grandmother was ‘at home’, and there came to her tea-table numberless old ladies in jet and black, who looked as if they had only been born out of consideration for an unworthy world, but wouldn’t have done it if they had known how unworthy it really was, haughty old ladies these with black pompoms in their bonnets and black silk gloves. There came also certain fat old ladies with artificial flowers in their little toques, and grey or yellow gloves, old ladies that looked as if they would have got on very nicely with the world if it had let them. I discovered later that they were periodically butchered by the old ladies in jet and pompoms not to make a Roman holiday, but a Toowoomba ‘at home’… ‘The Singing Gold,’ Dorothy Cottrell
The first white man to stumble across the Darling Downs was the explorer Allan Cunningham who wandered through the area from June 1827. He returned the following year to find a pass through the range, Cunningham's Gap, which would link the region to Moreton Bay and the coast. In 1841 an aspiring squatter, Patrick Leslie re-explored the Downs and claimed an extensive run on its southeastern reach. Leslie was quickly followed by the Hodgsons, Campbells, Archers, Russells, Gores and Gammies, and together they founded a squatting dynasty which was to prosper up until the 1880s and 90s, when the selection acts of 1862 and 1868 finally led to the development of smaller agricultural holdings and closer settlement.
Writing played its part in this invasion as the intruders quickly brought the representational strategies of colonial dispossession to bear on the imaginative task of claiming their newfound place. 'The pioneering squatter Arthur Hodgson, for example, chose to represent himself in command of a landscape which was prepared by God for his industrious expectations'
I remember well how delighted I was to find myself, on the second day after leaving the sheep and drays, in a beautiful country, consisting of open Downs, with a stream intersecting them, and surrounded by park-like scenery. It was a pleasant feeling, that of galloping over new and untrodden soil, where no white man was to be seen; the poor black fellow, with his gins and pica ninnies, the timid kangaroo, the fleet emu, and the prowling native dog, or jackal of Australia, were all that could be seen. They all fled at our approach, scarcely giving themselves time to consider what we could be; for many reasons we did not follow, but kept on the even tenor of our way, regarding the green sward and the deep-water holes as pleasant to look upon, and admirably calculated to refresh our sheep, horses, and bullocks. (French, Travellers 76)
In one fell rhetorical swoop Hodgson consigned the aborigine to the simple, knowable and apparently apolitical category of the natural, alongside the region's native flora and fauna. The indigenes in Hodgson's memoir romantically embellish the entrance of a pioneer hero by representing an exotic uncivilised past that is carefully framed by his narrative in the historical moment of its colonial supersession.
The indigenous inhabitants were not going to be conjured off their traditional lands solely by the self-interested processes of colonial representation, however, and the squatters had to disperse the original owners by depriving them of their water supplies, thinning out the native fauna they depended upon for food, and denying access to locations necessary to the practice of tribal customs and rituals. Aboriginal tribes defended their territory, culture and society with hit and run raids on shepherds and stock and this conflict enabled the intruders to openly organize more immediately violent methods of persuasion (French, Conflict 97-98). Steele Rudd took up this subject in the 1920s in The Romance of Runnibede (French, Travellers 52) an historical novel set on the Western Downs during the native resistance:
But there were squatters in the Never-Never Land who nursed bitter grudges against the black people. It was difficult for them to keep their guns silent whenever they came in contact with any of them; and in retaliation the tribes attacked the lonely shepherds, and at times a homestead, fired the grasses, and speared the stock. These depredations were reported to the police, and at long intervals after their occurrences a body of mounted 'trackers' would scour the country in search of the accused ones, and the accusations were mostly made wholesale. When they came across a tribe, or the remnant of one, that 'dropped their bundles and ran,' they judged them guilty, and would gallop rings around them, give any that looked dangerous a taste of shot, and head them all like cattle from that locality to some other corner in the Back of Beyond. Such official displays were called 'Dispersals by the Police,' and thereby many a pretty bush daisy bloomed on the innocent blood of the wild blacks  .
The guerilla war with the invading Europeans appeared to reach a climax in 1843 with what is now known as the Battle of One Tree Hill (French, Travellers 52). James Arrowsmith showed the versatility of letters in the colonial situation by composing a mock heroic poem to celebrate the occasion:
Oh! 'twas glorious to see those free sons of the soil,
Unfetter'd by garments, uninjured by toil,
Streaming down to the valley - as shining and black
As Newcastle coals shooting out of the sack.
Each warrior was greas'd from heel to the head;
Each cobra was charcoal'd-each limb streaked with red;
And plain might you see that each snake-eating elf
Was inclined to think no table beer of himself.
They'd a forest of spears that would turn a man pale,
Like a cheavaux-de-frize on the wall of a gaol;
And they bore in each girdle the swift boomerang,
And a toothpick, the lugs of the whiteman to bang.
The war song was sung-the coroboree done,
And they cried 'with the whitefellows let's have some fun.
They have settled old Moppy-a life for a life-
So death to the Croppy, and war to the knife.' 
Arrowsmith was the pseudonym for William Wilkes, a ticket of leave station hand based on a nearby run at Helidon. His mock epic uses a different rhetorical mode to Hodgson but both narratives insist upon the inconsequential nature of the indigene. The satire denies native resistance the historical dignity of a military engagement. Without a war invasion is settlement and the dispossessed natives cannot be entitled to the legal claims of their prior possession. As is always the case with the use of the satiric or ironic mode, however, an alternative view is there to be discerned by another readership in a different ideological climate.
The white invaders may well have thought that they had vanquished the native population by the middle of the century but the work of a later writer presented a very different view of the indigenous tribes to the west of the Darling Downs. Alice Monkton Duncan-Kemp was born in Charleville in 1901 and was educated at Fairholme college in Toowoomba and All Hallows convent Brisbane  . She spent her childhood on a pastoral property largely staffed by indigenous people in the channel country of south-west Queensland. Duncan-Kemp's father died when she was young and her mother took up the responsibility of running the property  . As a result she spent a lot of time in the company and care of the indigenous staff who taught her a great deal about aboriginal society and culture. From 1939 until her death in 1988 she lived in a number of places on the Darling Downs: Oakey (1939-47), Jondaryan (1947-50), Rosalie Plains (1959-62) and then Oakey once again from 1962 on.
Duncan-Kemp published five books between 1933 and 1971 on her experiences and knowledge of the indigenous tribes of South-west Queensland. Our Sandhill Country (Angus and Robertson, 1933), Where Strange Paths Go Down (Smith and Paterson, 1952, rev.ed. 1964), Our Channel Country (Angus and Robertson, 1961), Where Strange Gods Call (Smith and Paterson, 1968), and We Lived with a Stone Aged People (Smith and Paterson, 1971). These books represent a remarkable personal account of the history and ethnography of indigenous tribes in south-west Queensland and pointedly refute the imperialist accounts which disavow indigenous claims to both the land and the sophisticated level of human culture deemed requisite for the claims of a civilisation. In Duncan-Kemp's work the indigene is also a well-organised and capable warrior who continued to effectively defend native title well into the twentieth century.
By the 1850s, the declining indigenous population on the Darling Downs was finding employment on the stations as the gold rush and the end of convict transportation made white labour hard to come by. The settler population now numbered over 2500 and the region was divided into forty-nine licensed squatting runs. In the early days of the frontier society life was orientated around hard work and difficult conditions and the cultivated pursuits and material possessions, which marked class distinction in the civilized world, were in short supply  . Many of the squatters had reasonable libraries and some sealed the walls of their early slab dwellings with pages from London magazines such as Punch and The Illustrated London News  . For many visitors and settlers upon the Downs, however, the sign of successful settlement was the presence of a woman and the civilized appointments she brought to the home:
Why was [Mr W] so odd and untidy, so comfortless and careless? Not because he had not the means of being otherwise, for he possessed a fine run of goodly flock, but simply because he had no wife. … On our journey we lunched at a house the very opposite of this in comfort, neatness, and really, we might say in elegance. A neat verandah ran round the building, interlaced with creepers, the passion flower and jessamine with a pretty terraced garden. Within, the apartments had the air of well furbished English drawing-rooms, and we were waited upon by a page in green broadcloth, variegated with buttons. This abode belonged to one of the earliest settlers on the downs; his wife, whom we discovered … to be native, (born in Australia), was a lady-like person, pretty, lively, and accomplished, and doubtless to her taste he was indebted for so much comfort and elegance. It was quite a cottage ornée. (Berkeley Jones in French, Travellers 106)
The demise of the indigine, the opening of transport routes down the Range to Moreton Bay and the presence of a domestic life and its associated social practices indicated the coming of civilization for the squatters. Their historical significance in the development of what became the State of Queensland is well documented in the first Queensland novel, Colin Munro's Fern Vale or the Queensland Squatter, as well as two historical works or memoirs, John Campbell's The Early History of Queensland (1875) and John Stuart Russell's Genesis of Queensland (1888). By the 1880s, however, a new and more formidable enemy was threatening to consign the great landholders themselves to the colonial past. The end of the century and the beginning of the next belonged to the small landholder .
 Steele Rudd, The Romance of Runnibede, 1927, qtd in Richard Fotheringham, In Search of Steele Rudd, St Lucia: UQP, 1995, pp.15-16.
 James Arrowsmith, ‘The Raid of the Aborigines: A Heroic Poem after the Style of Virgil and Homer’, Moreton Bay Courier 24 February 1854. French, Travellers 60-65.
 J.L.Blyth and P. T. McNally, Darling Downs Writers: A Bibliography, Toowoomba: Darling Downs Institute Press, 1989, p.24.
 Yvette Steinhauer, ‘A.M. Duncan-Kemp: Her Life and Work.’ Journal of Australian Studies 67 (2001): 37-43.
 Arthur Hodgson, Emigration to the Australian Settlements, London: Trelawny Saunders, 1849. French, Travellers 75-77.
 H Berkeley Jones, Adventures in Australia in 1852 and 1853, London: Bentley, 1853. French, Travellers 106.
 See D.B.Waterson, Squatter, Selector and Storekeeper: A History of the Darling Downs 1859-93, Sydney: Sydney U P, 1968.